Iraqi security forces re-capture 349 escaped prisoners

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Iraqi security forces re-captured 349 inmates escaped earlier from Baghdad's major prison during assault by Islamic militants, chief security of the Iraqi capital said on Sunday.

"The security forces have re-captured 349 inmates who escaped from Abu Ghraib prison last week, while search operations are underway," Lieutenant General Abdul- Ameer al-Shimmary, Commander of Baghdad Operations Command, told a news conference without giving further details about how many prisoners exactly escaped from the prison.

Al-Shimmary said that the militant assault and the prison break on Sunday last week resulted in the killing of 105 from both the prisoners and the militants.

The prisoners carried out a riot inside the prisons when the attack of the Islamic militants began on the two prisons, he said.

The initial probe of the incident showed that there was negligence from the police force and the prison guards in Abu Ghraib prison, he said.

Further investigation was carried out on Saturday under the supervision of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the Commander in Chief of Iraqi Armed Forces, he added.

Al-Shimmary confirmed that the prison break occurred only in Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad and no prisoner escaped from Taji prison in north of the capital.

A statement on Maliki's website said the initial findings of Saturday's investigation showed a lack of oversight and that inmates were able to communicate with the outside world by mobile phones and other means.

Maliki ordered to sack the head of Abu Ghraib prison directorate as well as to detain senior federal police officers responsible for protecting Abu Ghraib prison, police intelligence officers in the prison and police on duty during the prison break, for negligent in carrying out their duty, the statement said.

The cases of the detained officials and security members will be referred to the judiciary, the statement added.

In the overnight attacks on July 21, dozens of gunmen simultaneously stormed Taji and Abu Ghraib prisons, respectively north and west of Baghdad, in an attempt to free prisoners.

The day after the attack, Hakim al-Zamili, a member of the parliament's security and defense committee, said that 500 to 1, 000 inmates, most of them al-Qaida-linked prisoners, have escaped from Abu Ghraib prison.

"Many of them (Qaida prisoners) had been sentenced to death penalties," al-Zamili said.

Iraq is witnessing its worst eruption of violence in five years, which raised fears that the country is sliding back to a full- blown civil conflict that peaked in 2006 and 2007, when the monthly death toll sometimes exceeded 3,000.

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